The Ministry of Catechesis: Encountering Jesus

by Anne Marie Kaufmann



This Sunday we celebrate Catechetical Sunday to recognize the ministry of catechesis and to commission those who serve as catechists in our parish. The word catechesis means “to echo” – to share by word and deed the teachings of our faith. Yet the task of catechesis involves passing on the faith not just in content but also in a way that leads to conversion through an encounter with Jesus Christ. “Accordingly, the definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ: only he can lead us to the love of the Father in the Spirit and make us share in the life of the Holy Trinity.” (Catechesi Tradendae, 5) It is this union with God through Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit that gives us true life. Jesus himself tells us: “I came that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (Jn 10:10b)

Through our baptism, we enter into the life of Christ and in turn share in his roles as priest, prophet, and king. Thus, in the ways we sacrifice for one another, witness to our faith, and serve one another, we make Christ known to others, and by doing so, each of us shares in the ministry of catechesis. At the same time, some of us are called to exercise this ministry in a more direct way. This includes parents, who are the primary catechists of their children, and those in our parish who serve as catechists in our programs for children, youth, and adults. We are grateful to all who have answered this call. It is truly a calling – a vocation placed upon the heart by the Spirit of God.

All who have been involved in catechetical ministry know of the time taken to plan sessions, the prayers offered for students, and the success of some lessons or seeming failure of others. As we enter fall and the beginning of many of our catechetical programs, I invite you to consider Jesus’ prayer in John’s Gospel right before his arrest:

“Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your Son, so that your Son may glorify you…Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are…I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.” (Jn 17:1, 11b, 20a)

Jesus offers this prayer for us and for all those we teach and serve in our catechetical ministries. He continues to be intimately united with us and has given us the Holy Spirit, that we may be a means through which others experience God’s love and come to know more deeply how they are called to serve God and others in our world.

Please pray for all those who serve in our catechetical ministries that together as a parish we may truly bring adults, youth, and children into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ to make known the transforming power of God’s love in our parish, communities, and world.